A new bill working its way through the state legislature could change the definition of the workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours.
Lawmakers say the change would improve quality of life and even productivity.
That could mean working fewer hours, and while the bill has just been introduced to the legislature, it is gaining traction.
According to Assembly Bill 2932, if an employee works 40 hours they’d need to be compensated for that extra eight hours by receiving at least time-and-a-half.
Assemblymember Christina Garcia, who represents the 58th District in Bell Gardens, was one of the authors to introduce the bill in the state legislature.
The bill would apply to companies with 500 employees or more.
Rep. Mark Takano of the 41st Congressional District in Riverside is a supporter of a reduced work week at the federal level.
A representative from the congressman’s office provided a statement that said in part:
“The 32-hour Workweek Act is exactly what our country needs after losing more than 900,000 lives to Covid. People are overworked, underpaid, and they need to reset their work-life balance.”
Roy Abarientos of Fontana said he “wouldn’t mind it at all.”
Shanika Samuels from San Bernardino said it’s a good idea but will depend on “what you make” and if it’s enough to survive with the reduced working hours.
Jonathan Harris, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University who specializes in employment law, likened the idea to the labor revolution that brought forth the 40-hour workweek in the 1930s.
“We’ve returned full circle to the ideas that sparked the Labor Movement in the U.S. over 100 years ago,” Harris said.
He believes the bill is part of an even bigger picture as the pandemic continues and people rethink their job situations.
What’s in place dates back to the Great Depression, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was instated in 1938, Harris said.
“In some ways the 40-hour work week was an arbitrary decision, an arbitrary number,” Harris said.
He said if the bill becomes law, hour changes will vary among employees and their situations. It could also mean employers end up hiring more people to keep from paying more for employees who would be entitled to time-and-a-half.
And then there are also employees who would likely be exempt.
“There are exemptions and they would likely still exist even with this new law,” Harris said. “Considering managers, or considering professional workers, as well as some who receive salary as opposed to hourly wage, many of those workers wouldn’t be affected by this law at all because there are exemptions for that minimum wage or overtime requirement.”
He said any new changes probably wouldn’t apply to those who fall under those categories.
The bill is still a long way from becoming California law and it is likely to face strong opposition, but those who spoke with KTLA Friday said they were open to possible changes to the workweek.